A trio of music industry veterans has set out to prove that records – yes, vinyl – can still make money.
Cheryl Pawelski, Brad Rosenberger and Greg Allen are co-founders of L.A.-based Omnivore Recordings, which issued its first releases last month: a limited-edition LP of ’70s rock band Big Star’s long-lost album “Third,” and a Buck Owens 7-inch extended play recording of early and unreleased songs.
Listening to the songs in sequence is a different experience from the one offered by the iPod’s “shuffle” setting, they said.
“In the digital era, where you can pick off tracks here and there that you like, you’ve kind of lost the storytelling that goes along with these records and these artists,” said Pawelski, 45, a former executive at Rhino Records and Concord Music Group.
Omnivore, which has been ramping up for the past year, will be releasing collectible music on vinyl as well as on compact discs. The trio wants to serve those who value the curatorial aspects of records and CDs, with their liner notes and photos. Also, there’s a still-strong segment that simply prefers vinyl and CDs.
The company produced 2,000 copies of the Big Star disc and 1,300 copies of the Buck Owens record and hoped people would buy them on Record Store Day, April 16, when independent record shops do a national promotion. Every copy sold out within hours of release, despite both releases bearing a price tag of $38. A few days later, the Omnivore titles were fetching $200 on eBay.
Rosenberger, 53, who had been an executive at Warner/Chappell Music for 21 years, said he and his partners want to keep the price affordable.
“Our business plan is not to screw the fans,” he said.
At Amoeba Records in Hollywood, co-owner Jim Henderson wasn’t surprised that Omnivore’s records sold well.
“The audience for catalog music is always repopulating and regenerating,” Henderson said. “Kids are picking up things whether it’s from their parents or online. Most of what people come in here for is to take that opportunity to experiment and hold something. Those types of reissues and releases are extremely popular for that reason.”
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